Chihuahua

Pamela Andersen and her husband Andrew Kuzyk draw a lot of comfort from Champ the Chihuahua and have little doubt that goes two ways with their cherished pet. (David Minton/Tribune Staff Photographer)

Champ looks a little different than other dogs but he still takes life one paw at a time. 

The 4-month-old Chihuahua Mix was born without his front paws but that doesn’t stop his “little chicken wings” from running, jumping and leaping like other dogs, said his owner, Pamela Andersen, 54, of Mesa.

Champ also is a joy to her husband Andrew Kuzyk, 60, while he battled through chemotherapy and recovers from surgery due to brain cancer.

“He is such a joy to us,” she said. “I just feel like he’s here for a reason for us.”

The couple moved from Michigan to Arizona in 2007 but Pamela rescued her chihuahuas Charlie and Claire from Georgia in 2020. That’s when the dogs had the first litter of puppies.

Champ was one of six puppies born in November 2021 as part of her second litter that should have never been because she’d planned to neuter Charlie sooner than she did. 

“I didn’t do it fast enough,” she said.  

Initially, Claire had rejected Champ and that led many of their friends to say they should just let die, Andrew said.

He decided he would do nothing of the sort and took him under his wing because he said he feels “very similar to him.”

“He makes me feel good,” he said. “He operates his life like he has no disability.” 

While the couple both said Champ entered their life and became such a “blessing,” Andrew credits much of his fighting spirit to his Christian faith. 

“There’s no way I’d be here without divine intervention,” he said. “I have total faith.”

Though, he’s not giving up, Andrew said he will not take part in chemotherapy anymore and simply just live his life.

“I’ll just live my life and whatever happens happens,” he said.

Andrew was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2021 and had surgery Nov. 1. While the surgery removed most of it, he said some remains because its inoperable due to the location in his brain.

While Champ uses his elbows to run around just fine – as well as standing on his hind legs – his owners have researched buying a wheelchair but costs average more than $300. 

Andrew said his medical bills have exceeded more than $1 million just for his own surgery. His wife had shoulder surgery on Dec. 27 from a fall.

With both of them on disability, veterinarian bills and a $300 wheelchair for Champ don’t appear possible, they said. 

Despite all these dire circumstances, when Andrew feels depressed about his situation, he simply picks Champ up and finds the solace and inspiration to carry on.

“He’s going through that,” he said. “I can go through this.”

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